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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Suspect says he wants to plead guilty

After making calls threatening to kill and sexually assault his last attorney, first-degree murder suspect Cole Strandberg got a new one Thursday in a hearing where he told the judge he wants to plead guilty.

Strandberg, 23, is charged in connection with the Jan. 7, 2008, slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer M. Bergeron. According to court records, Bergeron was strangled with a belt, shot in the head with a crossbow and sexually assaulted.

Strandberg told hospital officials that he is schizophrenic.

In court Thursday before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen, attorney Chris Bugbee told Eitzen that he has agreed to take over the case from Assistant Public Defender Al Rossi, who said in court records that Strandberg had been calling from the Spokane County Jail threatening to kill and sexually assault him.

Eitzen asked Strandberg how he was doing. He responded: “Your honor, I want to plead guilty to the death penalty. I’m just going to plead guilty.”

The judge said, “You need to talk to Mr. Bugbee about that.” She set a status conference for May 22 and a new hearing June 9.

Thomas Clouse

Billboards will carry fugitives’ mug shots

Coming soon to a billboard near you: wanted fugitives.

Crime Stoppers fugitives could see their mug shots on billboards in Spokane and Kootenai counties in a free service offered by the Spokane-based billboard company Lamar Outdoor, Crime Stoppers announced Thursday.

Pictures of fugitives will rotate among business advertisements as space becomes on available on five billboards in Spokane County and one in Kooteani County in hopes that a passer-by will recognize them.

Lamar offers the service to other law enforcement agencies across the nation. The first fugitive featured, Brian Nordlof, is wanted on a parole violation warrant issued by the Idaho Department of Corrections, according to Crime Stoppers.

Meghann M. Cuniff

Sanders County, Mont.

Officials say arrestee committed suicide

Authorities say a 22-year-old North Idaho man committed suicide in the Sanders County Detention Center shortly after he was captured by residents for allegedly robbing a convenience store in Trout Creek.

August Whitedirt, of Bonners Ferry, reportedly held a knife to the throat of the store’s clerk Sunday night and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. Sheriff Gene Arnold said Whitedirt was chased by a group of residents and was restrained until authorities arrived.

Authorities say Whitedirt was booked about 7:45 p.m. and was found hanging in the Thompson Falls detention center about an hour and a half later.

Sunday’s incident began about 7 p.m. with a report that three men had robbed the store. Two of the men left in an SUV with Idaho plates, eastbound on Montana 200. Undersheriff Rube Wrightsman said a deputy pulled them over but determined they were not aware that Whitedirt intended to rob the store. The men were not charged.

Associated Press

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